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Overcome Emotional Eating

Breaking the Cycle: How to Overcome Self-Sabotage and Emotional Eating

Mar 15, 2023

Are you tired of feeling stuck in a cycle of self-sabotage and emotional eating? Do you find yourself turning to food as a coping mechanism when you’re stressed or upset? It’s a common issue, and the good news is that it’s something you can overcome. In this blog, we’ll explore what self-sabotage and emotional eating are, the impact they can have on your life, and actionable steps you can take to break the cycle and move towards a healthier, happier you.

What is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is the act of undermining your own success or happiness. It’s when you engage in behaviours or thoughts that hold you back, even when you know they’re not in your best interest. Examples of self-sabotage can include procrastination, negative self-talk, and self-doubt.

The Impact of Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage can have a significant impact on our lives, affecting our relationships, career, and overall well-being. When we engage in self-sabotaging behaviours, we limit our potential for success and fulfilment, and we may struggle with feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression.

One of the biggest impacts of self-sabotage is on our relationships. If we have a pattern of pushing people away, for example, it can make it difficult to form and maintain meaningful connections with others. Similarly, if we struggle with self-doubt or negative self-talk, it can impact the way we interact with others and prevent us from reaching out for support when we need it.

Self-sabotage can also have a significant impact on our careers. If we have a fear of failure or success, for example, it can prevent us from taking risks or pursuing opportunities that could lead to growth and advancement. Similarly, if we struggle with procrastination or time management, it can limit our productivity and prevent us from achieving our goals.

In addition to impacting our relationships and careers, self-sabotage can also take a toll on our overall well-being. When we engage in self-sabotaging behaviours, it can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, or frustration, which can contribute to negative emotions and even depression. Similarly, if we use food or substances as a way to cope with those emotions, it can lead to physical health problems as well.

Breaking the cycle of self-sabotage requires understanding the impact it has on our lives and recognising the underlying causes of these behaviours. With support and the right strategies, it is possible to overcome self-sabotage and develop a healthier relationship with ourselves and those around us.

poster with notes relating to negative thoughts

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is a behaviour in which individuals eat in response to their emotions, rather than in response to hunger or nutritional needs. Emotional eating can be triggered by a variety of emotions, such as stress, anxiety, boredom, or sadness, and it is often characterised by the consumption of high-calorie, high-fat, or high-sugar foods.

One of the key features of emotional eating is that it is often done mindlessly, without paying attention to the physical cues of hunger or satiety. Individuals may eat quickly or eat until they feel uncomfortably full, without really enjoying or savouring the food. Emotional eating can also be accompanied by feelings of guilt, shame, or regret, which can further perpetuate the cycle of overeating.

Emotional eating can have negative consequences for both physical and mental health. Individuals who engage in emotional eating may be at risk for weight gain or obesity, which can lead to a variety of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or joint pain. In addition, emotional eating can contribute to negative emotions, such as low self-esteem or depression, which can further perpetuate the cycle of overeating.

Breaking the cycle of emotional eating requires understanding the underlying causes of this behaviour and developing healthier coping mechanisms for managing stress and negative emotions. This may include strategies such as mindfulness, regular exercise, or seeking support. By developing a healthier relationship with food and addressing the emotional triggers that lead to overeating, individuals can break the cycle of emotional eating and improve their overall health and well-being.

The Impact of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating can lead to weight gain, poor body image, and a negative relationship with food. It can also impact your emotional well-being, causing feelings of guilt, shame, and low self-esteem.

The Connection between Self-Sabotage and Emotional Eating

The connection between self-sabotage and emotional eating is a complex one. When we engage in self-sabotaging behaviours, it can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression. These emotions can trigger emotional eating, which can, in turn, lead to more self-sabotaging behaviours.

For example, if you struggle with self-doubt, you may put off starting a new exercise routine because you don’t believe you can stick with it. This can lead to feelings of disappointment or frustration, which can trigger emotional eating as a way to cope with those emotions. If you then feel guilty about overeating, it may lead to more self-doubt and negative self-talk, perpetuating the cycle of self-sabotage.

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Similarly, if you engage in procrastination or avoidance behaviours, you may feel overwhelmed or stressed, which can trigger emotional eating as a way to soothe those emotions. This can lead to feelings of guilt or shame, which can then trigger more avoidance behaviours and perpetuate the cycle.

Breaking the cycle of self-sabotage and emotional eating requires understanding and addressing both behaviours. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes of self-sabotage, such as negative self-talk or self-doubt, you can reduce the emotional triggers that lead to emotional eating. Similarly, by developing healthier coping mechanisms for managing stress and negative emotions, you can reduce the need for emotional eating as a way to cope.

Overall, it’s important to recognise that self-sabotage and emotional eating are often interconnected and can create a cycle that is difficult to break without intentional effort. However, with awareness, support, and the right strategies, it is possible to overcome these behaviours and develop a healthier relationship with food and self.

Breaking the Cycle of Self-Sabotage and Emotional Eating

Breaking the cycle of self-sabotage and emotional eating is possible, but it takes time, effort, and a willingness to make changes. Here are some actionable steps you can take to get started:

Recognise Your Triggers

Recognising your triggers is a critical step in overcoming self-sabotage and emotional eating. Triggers are the thoughts, feelings, or situations that lead to the urge to engage in self-sabotaging behaviours, such as overeating or negative self-talk. By identifying your triggers, you can develop strategies for managing them and preventing them from leading to destructive behaviours.

Triggers can be different for everyone, and they may vary depending on the situation or the emotional state. For example, someone may be triggered by stress at work, while another person may be triggered by a relationship conflict. Common emotional triggers for overeating include boredom, loneliness, sadness, or anxiety.

To recognise your triggers, it can be helpful to keep a journal or a log of your thoughts and emotions throughout the day. This can help you identify patterns in your behaviour and understand what situations or emotions are most likely to lead to overeating or self-sabotage. You may also find it helpful to talk with a therapist or support group, who can provide insights and guidance for managing your triggers.

Once you have identified your triggers, you can develop strategies for managing them. This may include practicing mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, when you feel triggered by a situation or emotion. You may also find it helpful to engage in a healthy coping mechanism, such as going for a walk or talking with a friend, instead of turning to food or other self-destructive behaviours.

It’s important to note that recognising your triggers is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. As you continue to work on breaking the cycle of self-sabotage and emotional eating, you may encounter new triggers or find that old triggers become more or less potent over time. By remaining mindful and proactive in identifying and managing your triggers, you can continue to make progress towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

person holding a flower

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a powerful tool for overcoming self-sabotage and emotional eating. Mindfulness is a state of active awareness in which you focus your attention on the present moment, without judgment or distraction. When you practice mindfulness, you become more attuned to your thoughts and emotions, which can help you identify and manage triggers that lead to overeating or self-sabotage.

There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, and what works best for one person may not be the best fit for another. Here are some strategies for incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine:

1. Mindful breathing: Taking deep breaths and focusing your attention on your breath can help you calm your mind and reduce stress. You can do this for a few minutes at a time throughout the day or practice a longer meditation session.

2. Mindful eating: When you eat mindfully, you focus your attention on the experience of eating, savouring each bite and paying attention to the sensations of taste, texture, and smell. This can help you tune in to your body’s hunger and fullness signals and reduce the likelihood of overeating.

3. Mindful movement: Activities such as yoga or tai chi can help you cultivate mindfulness by focusing your attention on your body and breath as you move. These practices can also help reduce stress and improve overall physical and mental health.

4. Mindful awareness: Simply taking a few moments throughout the day to pause and tune in to your thoughts and emotions can help you become more aware of your triggers and better manage your responses to them.

By incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, you can become more attuned to your thoughts and emotions and develop healthier coping mechanisms for managing stress and negative emotions. Over time, mindfulness can help you break the cycle of self-sabotage and emotional eating and improve your overall health and well-being.

group of friends sitting in a park

Build a Support System

Building a support system is an important aspect of overcoming self-sabotage and emotional eating. Having a network of supportive friends, family members, or professionals can help you stay accountable, provide encouragement, and offer guidance when you’re struggling.

Here are some ways to build a support system:

1. Seek professional help: Consider working with a therapist, nutritionist, or other healthcare provider who specialises in emotional eating and self-sabotage. They can help you develop personalised strategies for managing triggers, improving self-care, and making healthier choices.

2. Join a support group: Many communities offer support groups for individuals struggling with emotional eating or related issues. These groups provide a safe space to connect with others who understand your struggles and can offer encouragement and accountability.

3. Share with friends and family: Open up to trusted friends or family members about your struggles with emotional eating or self-sabotage. They may be able to offer support and understanding and can help hold you accountable for making healthy choices.

4. Find an accountability partner: Consider partnering with a friend or family member who is also trying to make healthy changes. You can offer each other support and encouragement, and hold each other accountable for sticking to your goals.

Remember, building a support system takes time and effort, but it can be a powerful tool for overcoming self-sabotage and emotional eating. Surrounding yourself with positive influences and a network of people who are invested in your success can help you stay motivated and on track towards achieving your goals.

Make a Plan

Creating a plan is an important step in overcoming self-sabotage and emotional eating. A plan can help you stay focused on your goals, manage triggers, and make healthier choices.

Here are some tips for creating a plan:

1. Set specific goals: Identify specific, measurable goals that you want to achieve. For example, you might set a goal to eat a certain number of servings of fruits and vegetables each day, or to avoid emotional eating for a certain amount of time.

2. Develop a realistic plan: Create a plan that is realistic and achievable. Consider your current lifestyle, work schedule, and other commitments when developing your plan. For example, if you work long hours, you may need to plan ahead to ensure you have healthy snacks and meals readily available.

3. Identify potential obstacles: Consider potential obstacles that may prevent you from sticking to your plan, such as stress, social events, or time constraints. Develop strategies for managing these obstacles, such as finding healthy ways to cope with stress or planning ahead for social events.

4. Track your progress: Keep track of your progress towards your goals. This can help you stay motivated and identify areas where you may need to make adjustments.

5. Celebrate your successes: Celebrate your successes along the way. Whether it’s reaching a goal or making a healthy choice, take time to acknowledge your accomplishments and give yourself credit for your hard work.

Remember, creating a plan is just the first step. It’s important to regularly review and adjust your plan as needed to ensure it continues to meet your needs and help you achieve your goals. With a solid plan in place, you can overcome self-sabotage and emotional eating and make lasting changes towards a healthier, happier life.

a typewriter with the word goals typed out

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is an important part of overcoming self-sabotage and emotional eating. When setting goals, it’s important to be specific and realistic about what you want to achieve.

Here are some tips for setting realistic goals:

1. Be specific: Identify the specific behaviour or habit that you want to change. For example, if you’re trying to reduce emotional eating, set a specific goal to only eat when you’re physically hungry.

2. Make your goals measurable: Set goals that are measurable so that you can track your progress. For example, instead of setting a vague goal to eat healthier, set a goal to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

3. Be realistic: Make sure your goals are achievable given your current circumstances. For example, if you work long hours and have limited time to exercise, don’t set a goal to exercise for an hour every day.

4. Break your goals down into smaller steps: Break your goals down into smaller, manageable steps. This can help you stay motivated and make progress towards your larger goals.

5. Write your goals down: Write your goals down and post them in a visible place where you’ll see them often. This can serve as a reminder of what you’re working towards and help you stay focused.

Remember, setting realistic goals is an important part of creating lasting change. By setting specific, measurable, and achievable goals, you can overcome self-sabotage and emotional eating and make progress towards a healthier, happier life.

the words and breathe written on a wall of leaves

Practice Self-Care

Practicing self-care is an important part of overcoming self-sabotage and emotional eating. Self-care involves taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health, and making time for activities that nourish your soul and help you feel good about yourself.

Here are some ways you can practice self-care:

1.  Prioritise sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to help your body and mind function at their best.

2. Engage in physical activity: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress, boost mood, and improve overall health. Find activities you enjoy and make time for them regularly, whether it’s yoga, dancing, or taking a walk in nature.

3. Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help you manage stress and reduce emotional eating triggers.

4. Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats can help you feel better physically and emotionally.

5. Make time for activities you enjoy: Engaging in hobbies or activities that you enjoy can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

6. Connect with others: Spending time with loved ones and building a support system can help you feel less isolated and reduce emotional eating triggers.

7.¬†Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks from work or other responsibilities and give yourself time to rest and recharge.

Remember, practicing self-care is not selfish. Taking care of your own needs and well-being can help you be more present and available for others, and lead to a happier, healthier life.

Staying motivated can be a challenge when trying to break the cycle of self-sabotage and emotional eating. Try setting small, achievable goals and celebrating your progress along the way. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for support from friends, family, or a therapist when you need it.

It’s important to remember that breaking the cycle takes time, and slip-ups are a normal part of the process. Instead of getting discouraged, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Reflect on what triggered the behaviour and what you could do differently in the future.

Developing healthier coping mechanisms takes time and practice, but it’s worth the effort. Try incorporating activities such as exercise, meditation, or journaling into your routine to help manage stress and emotions.

Richard Kellow

Richard Kellow

Richard is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and Virtual Gastric Band Practitioner based in Rotorua in the gorgeous Bay of Plenty. With his personal experience and training from the UK, US, and New Zealand, Richard is a living testament to the power of hypnosis.

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